Draupadi is the most prominent female character in the Mahabharata. Her given name at birth is Krishnaa, but since she is the daughter of Drupada she is called Draupadi. She is also known as Panchali – or the ‘daughter of Panchala’.
Draupadi is often considered the primary reason for the destruction of the Kuru dynasty. She takes birth as a grown young woman in a sacrifice performed by Drupada, in which the king asks for a ‘weapon’ with which the Kurus can be defeated.
In this post, we will answer the question: Did Draupadi love Krishna?
There is no romantic love between Draupadi and Krishna. During his visit to her swayamvara, Krishna makes it clear that he does not intend to participate in it. Throughout the story, the relationship between Draupadi and Krishna is akin to one that exists between a sister and a brother.
Read on to discover more about whether or not Draupadi loved Krishna.
(For answers to all Draupadi-related questions, see Draupadi: 46 Questions about the Mahabharata Heroine Answered.)
Relative through Marriage
Draupadi and Krishna are not blood relatives. Draupadi, in fact, is not related by blood to any known character in the Mahabharata (with the exception of her children) since she is born of fire at Drupada’s sacrificial ceremony.
Draupadi becomes Krishna’s relative through marriage when she becomes wife to Arjuna. Since Krishna is the son of Arjuna’s (and Yudhishthir’s, and Bhima’s) maternal uncle, to Draupadi he becomes a brother-in-law.
This does not mean, of course, there cannot be feelings of romantic love between the two. But after Draupadi gets betrothed to Arjuna, the two appear to have settled into considering each other siblings.
At Draupadi’s Swayamvara
Krishna makes an appearance along with his brother Balarama at Draupadi’s swayamvara. It is the first time the princes of Dwaraka appear in the Mahabharata story.
They appear to have been invited there by Drupada, but they also announce right at the outset that they have come merely as spectators, not as competitors for Draupadi’s hand.
(Suggested: Mahabharata Episode 12: Draupadi Enters.)
This can be construed to mean different things: (a) perhaps neither Krishna nor Balarama are interested in marriage with Draupadi at this point, and (b) they have come to the swayamvara with the express intention of starting friendships with kings of the Gangetic plain. They do not wish to start their diplomatic efforts by competing with their future allies.
Whatever the reason, Krishna makes it very clear right from his first meeting with Draupadi that he is not romantically or conjugally interested in her.
Krishna and Draupadi get to know each other better during the Rajasuya sacrifice, during which Krishna is honoured as the chief guest. They also have an opportunity for further close association twelve years later – when Arjuna marries Subhadra and Dwaraka thus becomes an ally to Indraprastha through marriage.
During the events of the dice game, Krishna rescues Draupadi by magically sending reams upon reams of garments to cover her body as Duhsasana feebly attempts to disrobe her.
(Suggested: What happens during Draupadi’s Disrobing?)
(However, Krishna’s presence at Hastinapur during Draupadi’s disrobing is hotly contentious. Later, Krishna laments about his absence saying, ‘I would not have allowed this game to take place if I had been in Dwaraka.’ He explains that he was away fighting an important war defending Dwaraka from a powerful invader.)
After the Pandavas are exiled, Krishna supports Draupadi’s anger and promises her that all of the four Pandava vows (the deaths of Karna, Duhsasana, Shakuni and Duryodhana) will come true.
Offering Draupadi as Bribe
On the other hand, it is a mistake to believe that Krishna had blind affection for Draupadi and would never do her any harm. Toward the end of the story, just before the beginning of the war, Krishna offers Draupadi as bribe to Karna.
He comes to know about Karna’s birth from Kunti, and in a private meeting, he asks Karna to betray Duryodhana and to join the Pandava cause. In return Krishna offers him:
- The throne of Indraprastha, and with it, dominion over the world and everlasting support from the Vrishnis.
- Lifelong servitude from Yudhishthir and his four brothers – including Arjuna.
- Draupadi as wife, who will also give him sons who will ascend the throne after him.
(Suggested: Why did Krishna offer Draupadi to Karna?)
Krishna makes this offer without seeking the consent of either the Pandavas or Draupadi. While it is perfectly reasonable to assume that Draupadi will go along with Krishna’s suggestion in the event Karna says yes, it would have been more ethical of Krishna to ask the Pandavas first.
Having said this, revealing Karna’s secret to the Pandavas first would have had the undesirable effect of discouraging them from fighting this war. Krishna therefore plays it strategically: he asks Karna first, and after he says no, wisely keeps the secret from the Pandavas for the entire duration of the war.
One must admit that Krishna attempts to use Draupadi as an object of leverage here. Quite unlike what a protective brother would do.
Since Draupadi first sets eyes on Krishna only at her swayamvara, there is simply not enough time for romantic feelings to develop within her toward him. Her attentions are diverted by Arjuna and Bhima, and the chaotic manner in which they win her and whisk her away.
After her marriage to the Pandavas, Draupadi appears to consider Krishna her powerful brother and well-wisher. She does not appear to have any untoward desires for him because she is known to be fiercely faithful to her husbands.
(We see evidence of Draupadi’s fiery loyalty in Mahabharata Episode 29: Kichaka is Killed.)
Indeed, during the entire story, Krishna and Draupadi seem to think of each other as siblings. Not even for a moment do they even think of a hypothetical universe in which they may have married each other.
Also, one must remember that being the first and official wife of Yudhishthir is a much better prospect (despite what happens at the dice game, Draupadi does rule Indraprastha as empress for a total of forty eight years) than being one of the many wives of Krishna – who is not even the king of Dwaraka.
Despite his handsomeness and charm, Krishna would not have been a desirable match in Draupadi’s eyes – especially relative to what she has already achieved.
So did Draupadi love Krishna? Yes, but only as a sister might love her brother.
If you liked this post, you may find these interesting also:
- Draupadi: 46 Questions about the Mahabharata Heroine Answered
- Arjuna: 51 Questions about the Mahabharata Hero Answered
- Karna: 41 Questions about the Mahabharata Hero Answered
- Krishna: 36 Questions about the Mahabharata Hero Answered
- 300+ Mahabharata Stories to Thrill, Delight and Enchant You